Study: Atheists Treat Christians Better Than Christians Treat Atheists

Has this been your experience?


Depends on the atheist and the Christian, doesn’t it?


The abstract of the paper notes that when the atheists believed that the Christians knew they were atheists they behaved better towards the christians than vice versa. However this effect went away whenever the atheist did not believe that the Christian knew their atheist identity. The reason why this was the case is explored in the paper and one of the authors notes:

Psychological research has demonstrated repeatedly that individuals facing negative stereotypes are not passive observers of this social landscape, but rather are impacted and react in a dynamic way to negative group-level judgments important to their identities…

I’m not really sure what this blogger is all about that you got the article from but it’s at least a more nuanced conclusion than what’s the headline reads.


There are some really interesting things here. I think the tagline “atheists treat Christians better than Christians treat atheists” is maybe stretching the study a bit.

It would be interesting to compare these results with a context where atheists were the dominate group and Christians the minority (maybe China, for example). I think it would be easily conceivable that the results would be different. From the abstract:

Specifically, we argue that atheists (but not Christians) experience unique reputational concerns due to stereotypes that their group is immoral, which in turn affect their behavior toward outgroup partners.

I wonder if the shoe was on the other foot, if the effect would reverse. It would be fascinating to see if it did, what the relative strength of the effect would be.

There is also an interesting thing about Christianity that may be related to this. With the rise of the Nones and the (perhaps) beginnings of unentangling with national politics, I’ve seen a lot more discussion of turning inwards rather than trying to “take over” culture. I hear more people talking about belonging to the Church before (i.e. higher priority) belonging to a nation, etc. There was also the talk about the so-called Benedict Option in 2017. To me that might be ingroup/outgroup behavior, but it also may be beneficial for the atheists/Nones. Rather than Christians viewing the US as a Christian nation to be dominated socially, perhaps we’re seeing more Christians wanting to circle the wagons and create more of an inward focused stance towards culture.


Not really. I have seen more gratuitous insults coming from atheists.

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